India to wait and watch after Pak talks offer
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While Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar reached out late on Wednesday by offering a discussion on "all concerns related to the LoC", a clear climbdown from the earlier position that called for UN intervention, her Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid made it clear that India would not take a hasty decision on the matter but would go by actions on the ground.
The government also felt that it could not respond to Khar's talks offer as it came through the media and not as a formal communication.
The issue was discussed at the cabinet with Defence Minister AK Antony briefing the meeting that the ceasefire had held since Wednesday when the DGMOs of the two countries spoke and agreed not to escalate the matter.
The meeting is believed to have concluded with the agreement to adopt a watch-and-wait policy and observe actions on the LoC in the coming days.
"Let us not rush into the matter. (We should) move step by step," Khurshid said after the meeting when asked about India's stance on the talks offer. Khar had said that it was "advisable" for the two countries to meet at the level of the foreign minister "with a view to reinforcing respect for the ceasefire".
Khar's statement came after the Pakistani army said it had ordered its troops to strictly obey the ceasefire. In a short conversation between the two director generals of military operations, it was also agreed not to escalate the matter on the LoC that has seen two Indian and three Pakistani soldiers being killed in 10 days.
Antony is believed to have told the cabinet that there have been no ceasefire violations since the Pakistani army informed India that the troops had been ordered to exercise restraint. The minister is learnt to have said that there was a general de-escalation in tensions along the LoC following the talks between the two military officers and shared the assessment of the army that a close watch needed to be maintained.
The minister informed the cabinet that passions have been running high among Indian troops after the beheading. The cabinet was also told that there is no indication that the threat of cross-border firing would spread from Mendhar that has seen the latest spate of violence.
While the External Affairs ministry has welcomed the positive signals from Pakistan over the last two days, it is clear that the overall situation needs to be assessed before bilateral talks on the issue can start. It is also of the view that Pakistan cannot take lightly the demand by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to brings the perpetrators of the brutal attack to book.
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